A behind-the-scenes look of Univision’s “Gran Encuentro” forums with GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama paints a less-than-flattering portrait of the Republican candidate, including allegations he couldn’t get enough students interested in hearing him so had to bus in rowdy supporters and became petulant about his introduction and threatened to walk out.
Romney almost pulled the plug on his appearance minutes before the broadcast, according to an interview Univision news anchor Maria Elena Salinas gave to BuzzFeed.com. While introducing Romney at the top of the broadcast, Salinas’s co-anchor, Jorge Ramos, noted that the Republican candidate had agreed to give the network 35 minutes, and that Obama had agreed to a full hour the next night.
Ramos then invited the audience to welcome Romney to the stage — but the candidate didn’t materialize. “It was a very awkward moment, believe me,” Salinas told BuzzFeed.
Apparently, Romney took issue with the anchors beginning the broadcast that way, said Salinas, and he refused to go on stage until they re-taped the introduction. (One Republican present at the taping said Romney “threw a tantrum.”) The network gave in and retaped the introduction. The remarks about his limited time were made at the end instead.
It’s not news that Univision’s were packed with a friendly crowd but what’s come to light is Romney had to bus in supporters because he couldn’t find enough students at the University of Miami willing to watch him in person. Salinas told the website that “tickets for each forum were divided between the network, the respective campaigns, and the University of Miami (which hosted the events) — and she said both campaigns initially agreed to keep the audience comprised mostly of students, in keeping with the events’ education theme.
“But after exhausting the few conservative groups on campus, the Romney camp realized there weren’t enough sympathetic students to fill the stands on their night — so they told the network and university that if they weren’t given an exemption to the students-only rule, they might have to reschedule.”
As BuzzFeed.com reported, “Romney’s team was allowed to bus in rowdy activists from around southern Florida in order to fill the extra seats at their town hall.
“Obama’s campaign, meanwhile, stuck to the original parameters and allowed a large chunk of the tickets to be distributed to interested students on campus. The result was a quiet, well-behaved crowd — and a lot of no-shows. Minutes before Obama’s forum was to begin, producers began frantically directing university staff and volunteers to sit in the empty seats.”